A Life Worth Repeating

By: Robin Alexander

This is a work of fiction, and the characters are all my own. Special thanks go to Tara for making me look good. She has the patience of a saint. As I said, this is a work of fiction, but when I went through similar circumstances in my own life. (ok I didn’t go back in time) I had the support of some amazing friends. To Kathy, Denise, Tara, Diane, and my twin Sheri, thank you for being there. I love you all. Each and every one of you mean more to me than I can express. And to Becky, you’ve been my little rock, thank you for your love and support and for giving me the encouragement to write again.

All comments good or bad are welcome at robinalex65@yahoo.com Visit my Web site at www.robinfic.com Updates are coming soon, I promise!


“Is she dead?”

“No, no she’s not. Go get your daddy honey. Hurry!”

Panic filled my sister’s voice as she ran screaming. My mother was kneeling at my side, lines of worry etched across her forehead. I was unable to move or even breathe; all I could do was lie there and stare.

I’m perplexed. This happened when I was nine, and I’m thirty-two. But here I lie on the same sidewalk as I did twenty-three years ago looking into my mother’s eyes. The lines of time are no longer present on her face as she stares back at me, gently calling my name.

Pain floods my entire body and my head feels like it will explode. Air fills my lungs and I cry out, not recognizing my own voice, it sounds so small. Dad picks me up in his arms. There’s a flurry of movement all around us. He hands me to my mother who is now in the backseat of the car. She holds me close whispering words of reassurance. I’m so sleepy, and as the nausea sets in, I give in to the lure of the blackness to escape it.

“It’s a mild concussion. We’ll keep her overnight, just to be on the safe side,” I hear an unfamiliar voice say. I open my eyes, which feel so heavy, just long enough to see my dad standing next to the bed.

There is no smell like my grandfather’s house, so many scents, it’s hard to describe, but one distinguishable smell is home-cooked biscuits. The aroma fills my senses and I open my eyes. I’m lying in the bedroom where I used to read scary comics, then spend the night hiding under my covers. Paw Paw walks into the room and looks down on me with a smile. God how I’ve missed him. Overcome with emotion, I stare back up at him speechless. The tears that fill my eyes are perceived as pain and he rushes off calling for my mom.

I lift my hand to wipe my eyes and am shocked at the sight of it. It’s small. I pull the blankets away from me and where the body of a grown adult should be, lies the body of a child, and it’s mine.

“Honey, are you hurting?” my mother asks as she enters the room.

“What has happened to me?” I ask as I run my hands over my face.

“You tied a rope across the sidewalk to jump and apparently forgot it was there. You ran into it at full speed and it threw you back onto the walk.” She smiles. “Your little head is a hard one.”

“No, what happened to me?”

Her brows draw together as she places her hand on my forehead. “I just explained what happened to you, sweetie.”

“The doctor said she might be a little confused when she woke up,” my dad says as he enters the room. “She’s been pretty much out of it for a couple of days. Do you remember us waking you up a lot during the night at the hospital?” he asks me as he sits on the bed.

“No, I don’t,” I mumble, thinking that maybe this was all a dream. “Can I have some water, please?”

“I’ll get it,” I hear my grandfather say. He returns a minute later and hands it to me as my dad sits me up. Some dream, I think to myself, I can feel the coolness of the cup in my hand and the water tastes much sweeter than I remember. Any minute I would wake up and I would find myself lying in my bed cursing the alarm clock. But that doesn’t happen.

The days passed quickly and soon I was given a clean bill of health, even though they marveled over the fact that I spoke as someone much older than a nine-year-old.

I’d lost interest in my army men and digging in the dirt. Instead I followed my grandfather like a lost puppy hanging on his every word. I’d get up early just to watch him make the biscuits and bacon each morning. My parents passed off the odd behavior as a byproduct of my injury. The most intriguing thing they found was the way my younger siblings no longer seemed to get on my nerves; I was entertained by their antics.

The day we were to leave for home was the most difficult. I clung to my grandfather’s leg and cried as they gently tugged me away from him. I was so afraid I would never see him again, even though I knew he would pass away much later in life. Just a little more time with him, please.

I was uncharacteristically quiet on the two-and-a-half-hour ride home. Even my sisters furry little legs rubbing against mine in the backseat didn’t bother me. I looked at her and remembered all the fights we used to get into because she liked to sit so close to me it made me sweat.

When we returned home, I raced up the old brick steps of our house and circled like a dog until my dad finally unlocked the door. I ran across the old hardwood floors to my bedroom and stood in awe of it. I wandered through the house with my mouth hanging open; it was just as I remembered.

Standing in the bathroom, I looked hard at the reflection staring back at me in the full-length mirror. Long scrawny legs, both knees covered with abrasions. I was as skinny as a rail. Blonde hair starting to give way to the reddish brown that would follow me into adulthood. Blue eyes that appeared to have lived much longer than my nine years—and they had.

Whether I wanted to accept it or not, this was no dream. My thirty-two-year-old mind was back in my nine-year-old body. Somehow I went back in time. It took me a while to grasp the reality of it. There was no one to talk to, no one to tell what had happened. I was back with my family, yet alone on this new but old journey.

I’d seen enough movies and read enough books to know that any alteration in time could adversely affect the future. Even the most infinitesimal change could have a profound outcome. I spent quite a few years simply going through the motions, taking cues from my mother and siblings on how I should act and react. I could have been an honor roll student with the knowledge that I possessed, but in keeping with my past, I simply got by. Everything changed, though, the day my first love walked into the classroom in junior high school.

I knew she would walk through the door of my seventh-period class, and it would all start over. A turning point. My palms were clammy as I wrung my hands in anticipation of seeing her again. I could make a decision here—I could turn away from her, and she would never break my heart. But when Julia Buckner walked into that classroom and gazed at me with those dark eyes, I knew history was doomed to repeat itself.

I savored that first kiss, the first touch of her skin. I reveled in the smell of her hair, more so than I ever did when it first happened. And when she decided that she didn’t like girls and wanted boys instead, I cried myself to sleep at night the same way I had done years before and swore I would not allow myself to feel this pain again.

As sure as time, Carol came into my life not long after high school. She’d broken my heart, too, but I was unwilling to allow this to happen. I’d learned my lesson with Julia. I figured that since I knew what was coming, I would safeguard my feelings. I would go on as I had before, but she won my heart all over again, and I failed to keep the promise to myself.

I knew what was coming the day I left work early. I stood at our apartment door contemplating just walking away. That way, I wouldn’t have to see her face when I caught her in the arms of another woman.

By the time my third lover came into my life, I knew what had to be done. History would have to repeat itself, and the only change I could make was how I would react. But to no avail, I succumbed to all of her charms as I did the first time, fully knowing the agony to come.

The time was drawing near that my grandfather would soon pass away. I remembered regretting not spending more time with him before he left this life, and this time would be different. I made frequent trips to see him in the nursing home. Even though Alzheimer’s had ravaged his mind, we had some very pleasant and memorable conversations. And the day he died, I was there with him.

Lovers came and went as they had in the past. I realized that the pain I felt when I let one go, or when I was the one let go, made me who I am. I could not trade those experiences. And I suppose this is where the story really begins. My last relationship began right after my thirty-first birthday. They say hindsight is 20/20, and so when Mandy came into my life for the second time, I was determined to handle it all differently.

I didn’t have to look up from my drink. I knew she was walking up to the bar where I sat. “Anyone sitting here?” she asked.

“Nope,” I responded dryly.

Her leg brushed mine briefly as she settled onto the stool and ordered her drink. “It’s not very crowded tonight, is it?”

“It’s early,” I responded as I lit a cigarette and intentionally exhaled the smoke in her direction. I knew she hated it, and just maybe that would be enough to make her walk away.

Looking out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the same painted fingernails and the bracelet she always wore on her left wrist. She was wearing the same denim skirt, the same low-cut blouse. I stole a glance at her face, and it was just the same, a perfect mask of innocence.

“Have you lived here all your life?” she asked, fanning at the smoke.


“I just moved here from Beaumont, my job made the transfer possible. I needed the change.”

She was still making conversation, even though I’d made it painfully obvious that I was not interested. “Well, welcome to Baton Rouge,” I called over my shoulder as I climbed off the barstool and went farther into the bar.

The not-so-subtle clue must have settled into that blonde head of hers and soon she found someone else to chat with. I watched as they talked, both exchanging smiles, then taking to the dance floor, just as we had. And when the night drew to a close, they left together.

I’d dodged a bullet and changed history, something I should have done the first time, but that’s when the real trouble began.

Monday morning, I arrived at work. I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed to my office to find my boss waiting on me with a smile. “Good news!” he said with a grin. “I finally hired someone for the warehouse job, and after you get the training done, you won’t have to keep such long hours.”

“Ricky, that’s music to my ears!” I exclaimed as I settled down at my desk. “When do I get to meet the victim—I mean new employee?”

“She’ll be here anytime now. I’ll introduce you to her when she arrives and you can start showing her the ropes.”

“She?” I asked perplexed. The new guy was supposed to be just that—a guy. This was not how I remembered it.

“Yep, she’s got experience and seems to have the right disposition. I think y’all will get along just fine,” Ricky called over his shoulder as he strolled down the hall.

Nothing could have prepared me for that introduction. I know my face went slack when she walked into my office.

“Skye, I’d like you to meet Tanya, she’s the one I spoke to you about earlier.” Ricky’s voice barely registered as I looked into the face of the woman Mandy had picked up on Friday night instead of me.

Short brown hair framed the fresh young face. Big expressive brown eyes and a smile that made little dimples appear on her cheeks. She was much younger than me and so much more innocent.

“Skye? Come back to earth with the rest of us,” Ricky teased.

“I’m sorry…I…um…you just look a little familiar to me,” I tried to recover.

Tanya shook my hand with a smile. “You look familiar, too, have we met before?”

“I don’t think so. You’re probably ready to get started. There’s hot coffee in the break room just down the hall on the right. Give me a minute or two to put some finishing touches on the paperwork I was doing and we’ll head out to the warehouse.”

“Are you okay?” Ricky asked as she left us alone.

“Fine, I’m fine, really. I have a headache is all.” My response seemed to satisfy my boss and he left me to collect myself. It would take time, but I would discover the consequences of the change I made.

Tanya and I spent the morning in the warehouse, and she caught on quickly. By lunch, she was preparing boxes for shipment without my assistance. I would have been thrilled if the circumstances had been different, but I kept wondering what this would all mean. Would the outcome be different, or would she suffer the same fate?

“Does Ricky know you’re gay?” Tanya asked out of the blue as I stood at the computer.

“Yes, he does, but how do you know?” I asked, surprised.

“I saw you at the club Friday night. You seemed comfortable enough not to have wandered in there by accident.”

“Why didn’t you say something earlier?”

“I wasn’t sure if he knew or not, and I didn’t want to out you,” she answered with a smile.

“Ricky’s pretty cool, that kind of stuff doesn’t bother him. I’ve worked with him since I was a kid, and he’s never given me any flak about it.”

“Good, I think I’m gonna like it here, that is, if you’re happy with my work.” She shuffled from one foot to the other, obviously waiting for my affirmation.

“I think you’re going to make a great addition to our staff, Tanya.”

“Cool!” she exclaimed. “I just met a girl, and I think things are really going to work out.”

“How do you know things are going to work out if you just met her?”

She stuffed her hands into her back pockets and gave me a sideways glance. “We really hit it off. We met Friday night when I saw you at the club, and we haven’t been apart until this morning. She likes all the same things that I do, we have a ton of stuff in common.”

“Well, give it time before you start making commitments,” I said. “Take some time to really get to know each other before loading up the U-haul.”

She shrugged and hung her head. “It’s umm…a little late for that,” she said sheepishly.

I knew what was coming next because I had fallen into the same trap.

“You see, she’s been living in a hotel while trying to find a place to live, so I offered to let her move in with me. Don’t look at me like that, Skye. She’s really a great girl and I’m crazy about her, and she needed a place to stay.”

There was nothing I could say. I knew where she was mentally because I was exactly in the same place and no one could have told me differently. I fell for the same sad story just like Tanya had and opened my home to a stranger.

Tanya was everything a good employee should be. Always on time, took constructive criticism well, and was willing to do the work. In addition, she was a nice kid. We got along well and soon became friends. She frequently talked about her budding relationship, and all I could do was encourage her to keep her eyes open. Even though, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs that a sociopath had taken up residence with her. The trouble would soon start and I hoped that I could make her see that Mandy was evil incarnate.

My chance came one day when Tanya showed up to work looking disheveled and wretched. “Are you feeling all right?” I asked later when we were alone.

“No,” she replied sadly. “Mandy and I got into a fight last night. She’s jealous, she thinks my best friend is after me, you know—wants to be more than just friends. No matter how I tried, I just couldn’t make Mandy understand that there’s nothing going on.”

I couldn’t keep my face from paling. This was the very first argument that Mandy and I had. History was repeating itself, but this time, Tanya was in my shoes. “I think you should stand your ground. I know you believe Mandy is the one for you, but if for some reason things don’t work out, you’ll need your friends to lean on.”

“I know, but Mandy has it in her head that there’s so much more to my friendship with Carly, and that’s just not true. She cried all last night. Nothing I could say or do would console her. I hate being the cause of her pain.”

Anger boiled up within me. This monster was turning Tanya inside out just the way she had me, and I felt powerless to stop it. Plus I felt guilty, guilty for being the reason this sweet girl had become the new prey.

As time went on, I noticed changes in Tanya. Instead of the vivacious woman I knew her to be, she was becoming withdrawn and moody. There were days I couldn’t break through the barriers that she had put up between us. I was running out of time.

“Hey, Tanya, now that the weather has gotten cooler, I’m thinking about having a cookout at my house this Saturday. Why don’t you bring Mandy? I’d like to meet her,” I asked one Friday afternoon when she seemed especially down.

Her face brightened a little. “I’ll have to run it by Mandy first.”

“That’s fine. Just give me a call sometime Saturday and let me know if you’ll be able to make it.” I knew they would come. There was no way Mandy would miss a chance to meet the friend in Tanya’s life she had not been able to establish some sort of contact with. Mandy’s method of operation was to divide and conquer.

They arrived promptly at eight that evening. Mandy pretended not to remember me from that night in the bar, but something in her eyes told me she remembered my rebuff well. I introduced them both to all my friends and encouraged them to mingle.

I mixed up hurricanes and made sure that Mandy always had one of the strong concoctions in her hand. The alcohol made the beast come out, and by the way she was guzzling them down, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. Mandy became more and more boisterous by the minute. I watched as Tanya’s face flushed with embarrassment as Mandy made sexual advances on her in plain view of everyone. When Tanya wouldn’t play along, Mandy got angry and began to flirt shamelessly with anyone who would pay her a moment’s attention.

Fortunately, the people attending my party respected that Tanya and Mandy were in a relationship and each one politely kept their distance. When Mandy couldn’t get what she wanted, she resorted to the old standard—she settled into a chair and turned on the water works. Tanya was there by her side trying to console the same woman who minutes ago had been coming on to nearly everyone in sight.

I saw myself in Tanya and it made me sick. Had I been that gullible? That naïve?

The following Monday, Tanya returned to work with a story to tell. Mandy’s excuse for her behavior was that she was going through deep emotional turmoil. “Mandy really broke down this weekend,” Tanya confessed sadly. “She moved from Beaumont to escape her ex-husband.”

Bile rose in my throat. I knew this story well, and I could almost repeat it verbatim.

“She admitted to him one day that she was attracted to women, so he beat her and nearly made her a prisoner in her own house. She filed for divorce and moved here when an opportunity opened within her company. I guess that’s why she’s been so uptight,” Tanya said. “I’d love to get my hands around her ex-husband’s neck.”

“Did she report him to the police?” I asked, knowing the answer.

“Yes, and as soon he made bail, he beat her again. She just decided it was safer to leave.”

My stomach tied into knots. This was the beginning of the end. Would Tanya do the same thing I did? Would she repeat my steps?

I led her outside where we sat on the loading dock and I smoked a cigarette trying to think of some way to get through to her. She sat beside me as I pondered how to phrase what I wanted to say, and apparently I didn’t do a very good job. “Tanya, I want to ask you something and please promise me not to take it the wrong way, okay?”


“Do you sometimes wonder if Mandy is telling you the truth? I mean, does something nag at you about her?”

“Surely, you’re not suggesting that she would make up such an awful story,” she protested immediately.

I put my hands up in surrender. “Hear me out. A month or two ago, you told me that she told you about a guy at work who was harassing her. She told you this right on the heels of a big fight.”

“Are you suggesting that she lied about that, too?” Tanya was getting agitated and I knew I was losing her.

“There’s a pattern here, think about it. She starts a fight, you get angry, then she turns it all around by telling you something bad has happened to her. She spends a day or two crying about it, then you’re right back in the palm of her hand.”

Tanya jumped to her feet. “You have no idea what you’re talking about! You don’t even know her!”

“I know what you tell me about her, and it’s the same thing over and over. And you’re wrong. I know exactly what I’m talking about. I was involved with a woman just like Mandy, and I’m trying to keep you from getting hurt like I did.”

“Look, I appreciate you trying to look out for me, but you can’t form an opinion about Mandy by just meeting her once.”

“Tanya, look me in the eye and tell me that you don’t feel some sort of suspicion about her and the things she tells you.” She couldn’t. Instead, she turned her back to me and scrubbed at her face in frustration.

“She says she’ll kill herself if I leave her, and I believe her,” Tanya said without turning to look at me.

“She…my girlfriend told me that, too, and it’s a lie.” I stood and put my hands on Tanya’s shoulders, and she jerked away from my touch. “She drained my bank account and ruined my reputation. She’ll lie and do whatever it takes to keep you under her thumb, then one day when she’s had her fill of you, she’ll just walk away.”

“You know what I think, Skye? I think we should just work together and leave our personal lives out of it.”

I stood on the loading dock watching her walk away. The cool autumn wind blew across my skin reminding me that I didn’t have much time left to correct what I had done wrong. The question was how.

The mood between Tanya and me was colder than the fall temperatures that fell every day. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t get to her. And one Saturday while we were doing inventory, I put a new plan into motion.

“Ricky wants me to run an errand for him.  Do you think you can handle things around here for a while?”

“Sure, go,” Tanya responded without looking up at me.

I went to Ricky’s office, pulled Tanya’s personnel file, and jotted down her address. Within thirty minutes, I was sitting in the driveway of the home Tanya shared with the devil. I found Mandy sitting in the backyard. She didn’t seem surprised to see me.

“Tanya’s not here, she’s supposed to be at work,” Mandy said.

“I came to talk to you.”

“About what?” she said, inclining her head and looking at me curiously.

“I know what you are and I know what you’re capable of,” I said calmly.

Her bottom lip poked out and she looked at me on the verge of tears. “Tanya told me that you don’t like me. What have I done to you?”

“It’s what you do to her that I don’t like. If you cared anything about her, you wouldn’t suck the life out of her like a vampire.”

Tears streamed down Mandy’s face. “I love her and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her, she knows that.”

“Except tell her the truth.”

“What have I lied to her about?”

“Your husband never beat you, and you never pressed charges against him,” I said as a smile crept across my face. “Everything about you is a lie.”

The tearful expression was immediately replaced with something much darker. “What the fuck do you know?” she ground out.

“I know all your secrets, and I’m not willing to allow Tanya to be suckered by you any longer. You’re toying with her, just like you do everyone else.”

“Who have you been talking to?” she demanded as she rose to her feet and started toward me.

“I know you,” I said calmly. “I know that nearly everything that comes out of your mouth is a lie to manipulate the sympathies of others. And I know that you have no conscience. You’re incapable of feeling any remorse.”

“Get the fuck out of here before I call the police!”

“Call them, we both know that you really don’t want them poking into your life right now.” She looked like someone punched her in the stomach. “I’ll go now, but remember I know you, Mandy, and it all stops here.”

I left her that day standing slack-jawed staring after me.

What the hell is wrong with you, Skye?” Ricky yelled at me as I sat slumped down in the chair in front of his desk. “Tanya is so upset that she’s not coming in today! Are you trying to get me sued? What were you thinking, confronting her girlfriend like that?”

“I just got tired of seeing Tanya get taken advantage of,” I mumbled.

Ricky scrubbed at his unshaven face. “You’ve worked here since you were a kid. I’ve put a lot of trust in you, and this time, you let me down. I’m going to explain this to you like you didn’t know any better. Don’t discuss anything with Tanya other than business, right after you apologize to her. You got me on this?”

“Yes, sir,” I lied.

For a while, I kept my promise. I refrained from discussing anything with Tanya other than work. My thirty-second birthday came and went, and the day of reckoning was just around the corner. Whether anyone approved or not, I would not fail Tanya.

One afternoon just before quitting time, I overheard Tanya on the phone with her best friend. “Carly, I just can’t handle it anymore. Nothing satisfies her, there’s never any peace between us. I spend nearly every waking hour defending my every move. I don’t think I even know who I am anymore.”

I remembered having that same conversation with my best friend, the end was near.

I awoke with a start one spring morning, the last day I had any recollection of. Where it all ended and where it all began. I drove to work that morning getting stuck in the same traffic jam that caused me to be late to work by an hour. I spilled coffee on my pants just like I did before. Everything was the same.

The day flew by like a dream, and when Ricky left early for the day, my last-ditch effort was put into effect. I marched out of my office straight into the warehouse, grabbed Tanya by the collar, and dragged her screaming into my office. I wrestled her down to the floor in front of my desk and sat on her to keep her in place.

“Now listen up, dumbass!” I yelled back into her face. “I’ve got a roll of duct tape and I’ll tape your stupid mouth shut or you can quiet down and listen.”

“You’re insane,” she panted under my weight.

“No, your girlfriend is, and I’m about to prove it. I’ll let you up after I make a phone call, then if you’re not convinced, you can have my phone to call the police and have me locked up. Deal?”

“Make your call,” she agreed breathlessly.

I pulled the phone to the edge of the desk and dialed the number, putting the call on speaker. It rang twice and a male voice answered just as it had thirty-two years ago to the day. “Is this Kevin Lennox?”

“It is, may I ask whose calling?”

“My name is Skye Peterson, I know Mandy.”

“Is she okay?” Concern tempered his voice.

“She’s fine, but I have some concerns I’d like to discuss with you.”


“She tells me that she’s afraid to visit her family because they live so close to you. And that you’re going through a very rocky divorce.”

“What?” She was just here this past weekend, and we visited her parents together. And we’re not getting a divorce. Is this some kind of joke?”

I pressed the mute button and looked at Tanya’s shocked face. “She told you that she went to visit her sister, didn’t she?”

Tanya nodded in shock.

I switched off the mute button. “No, this is not a joke. I promise this is what she told me. I was under the impression she was in some sort of danger. So you’re not getting a divorce? She told me that’s why she moved here.”

“She’s on temporary assignment with her company, and when it ends a month from now, she’s coming home,” Kevin said irritably. “What is this all about?”

I looked down at Tanya whose color had gone from red to ashen.

“I don’t know how to say this, but Mandy’s involved in a relationship with one of my closest friends. They live together.”

“Do you mean Tanya? She’s her roommate,” Kevin said.

“Tanya is a very good friend of mine and she’s shared a lot of personal details about their relationship, and I’ve suspected for a while that something wasn’t right.”

“What did you say your name was again?” Kevin said as the sound of papers rustled in the background.

“My name is Skye and I work with Tanya.”

“Look, Skye, I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing here, but my wife is not the least bit interested in women, especially Tanya. She complains about her all the time and says she’s pretty simple-minded. She can’t wait to be away from her.”

I winced and looked down at Tanya, who had gone limp beneath me.

“Doesn’t your wife have a crescent moon-shaped birthmark on the inside of her thigh where it joins her hip?” Tanya asked suddenly.


“Who is this?” Kevin asked finally.

“This is Tanya,” she responded dejectedly.

His answer was a dial tone.

I stood and pulled Tanya to her feet as the first of many tears fell. “I’m sorry that you had to hear that, but there was no other way,” I said softly as I pulled her close and hugged her tight as she cried.

“Tanya, come home with me. Don’t go back to that house tonight. He’s going to call her and she’s going to be livid.”

Tanya sniffed and pulled away from me, settling into a chair. “That makes two of us. I just want to look her in the face and hear her admit to all this.”

I knew that was a terrible idea because that’s exactly what I did. “Look, you’re not in the right frame of mind for that right now, even though I know you want to.” I stalled, trying to think of a way to keep her from going home. “Let’s close up shop here and go out for a drink and think this out.”

“I don’t know,” Tanya said as she drummed her fingers on the armrest of the chair.

“Promise me you won’t go anywhere. I’m gonna go close the warehouse doors, and when I get back, we’ll come up with a plan. Promise?”

“Promise.” Tanya sighed.

I raced through the warehouse, closing all the bay doors, then rushed back to my office. True to her word, Tanya sat waiting on me with a steady stream of fresh tears running down her face.

“Come on, kiddo, let’s go get a drink. I think it might help,” I said as I tugged her to her feet.

I draped my arm over her slumped shoulders and led her to the parking lot. We were about to climb into my car when Mandy pulled up, and just as I predicted, she was seething.

“You bitch!” she screeched.

“I’m a bitch?” Tanya yelled. “You’ve got real nerve, you pathological liar! Did you ever tell me the truth about anything?”

As it happened thirty-two years ago, I saw the flash of metal, as Mandy raised the gun and pointed it squarely at Tanya’s chest. The whole world seemed to hold its breath and time stood still. My feet moved of their own volition and I stepped in front of Tanya. The sound of the gun going off surprised me just as it did the first time. But in that split second, I kept the promise to myself, Tanya would not suffer the same fate I had.

I have no idea what happened after that night. No idea what happened to Tanya or Mandy. I’ll have to wait another twenty-three years to find out, but right now, Paw Paw is taking me fishing.

The End

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